A Message From the Chair – 2019

What a great inaugural section program in New Orleans!

Many thanks to our inspiring and thought-provoking speakers and to Deborah Rhode for assembling such a stellar panel.
(Bob Post, Susan Sturm, and
Kellye Y. Testy’s follow-up comments from the program are available on this website).

Our section program had one of the highest attendance – quite a feat for our first official program!

I encourage you to watch the recording on the AALS website or read summaries in this newsletter from our panelists.

In our second year, the Executive Committee looks forward to working with you to continue the momentum and garner more interest in, and understanding of the importance of, our effort. We will need to continue to address questions about the structure and content of leadership development in law schools. I submit that providing a common definition of leadership is less important than establishing a universal recognition that lawyers do, and must continue to, play leadership roles in society. As law professors and administrators, we are the educators, trainers, and mentors of the future generations of lawyers who will play important roles in their communities. Surely, we have an obligation to prepare our students not only for their professional obligations but also the myriad opportunities to serve and to lead that will come their way.

Through our experience in creating a leadership program and course at Baylor Law, we see three important benefits to our students when law schools are more intentional in providing leadership development for our students:

  1. Ensure our students understand their obligation to serve, protect and give back to society, but also to inspire them to seek opportunities to use their legal training and skills to positively impact their communities as well as their clients.
  2. Expose our students to specific leadership language, theory, and skills necessary or helpful to be more effective in those roles;    
  3. Guide students through a self-assessment and discovery of their own leadership characteristics and traits and provide appropriate training so that they are better equipped for impact and success when those opportunities are presented. This will likely result in more personal satisfaction and better well-being throughout the students’ careers. 

Through intentional leadership development programming, students will be better equipped to adapt to changing conditions in an ever increasingly complex society, to add value for their clients and to make a difference in the lives of their clients and their communities.

We need to help law schools see the benefits to us as well. Highlighting leadership skills gained from legal training will enable applicants see that law school continues to be a great investment in their future as they seek a path of significance and fulfillment through helping people and effectuating a better future for organizations, communities, and societies.

Thank you for your energy and your work. What we are doing is important. Our efforts matter. We can make a difference in the personal and professional lives of our students. We can impact the future of our profession, our nation and beyond.

We are proud to announce that more than 50 law schools now have some type of leadership programming and/or courses. And more are coming! Schools with leadership programs generally offer non-credit workshops, seminars, and other leadership activities. Other law schools likely have or had leadership workshops or forums. If you have a new program or class, please add it to our list by filling out a short survey,here.

Our plans for 2019 are to:

  1. Build awareness of our work and its importance and relevance;
  2. Build membership in the section;
  3. Support efforts to create programming and classes;
  4. Support efforts for scholarship and other avenues for sharing of knowledge and ideas; and
  5. Plan programming for the 2020 AALS Annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

I hope to see you in Knoxville at the roundtable hosted by Doug Blaze and the University of Tennessee School of Law on April 4 and 5! (Register Today!)

All the best,